Polesden Lacey has a large area of ancient woodland, approximately 2 square miles of valleys and rolling countryside covering 1400 acres.
A few years ago, the team at Polesden Lacey thought it would be a good idea to recruit some volunteers who would patrol and keep an eye on the estate. So the search for roaming rangers began.
What does a roaming ranger actually do?
Well, apart from enjoying a good walk, we have the responsibility of looking out for damaged gates and fences and fallen trees. Polesden Lacey’s ancient woodland, as it says on the tin, is very old and stormy weather can and has taken its toll on the trees.
If something needs fixing, we’ll fetch the tools and oil from a rucksack and fix it. If we’re not able to fix it there and then, we report back to Polesden Lacey’s senior rangers or we radio back to base for assistance.
A typical day
When “clocking on” a roaming ranger’s routine goes a bit like this. First we decide where to go, or if there is anything in particular to do or look out for. We collect radio walkie-talkies, then we each leave a note about where we’re planning to go on the board in the ranger office (safety, safety). Then ‘orf’ we jolly well go.
As well as the main way-marked routes throughout Ranmore Common, roaming rangers also go off piste. The estate is so large and we do need to check all areas, including those that are off the beaten track. We keep an eye out for farm animals, like sheep and cows, because they do occasionally escape their fields and go for a wander.
Training and other duties
During the first year, Roaming Rangers can attend some basic training courses for tree management, first aid and defibrillator, and more. When we’re not roaming, we often get involved with other tasks around the estate, like scrub bashing and coppicing with the rest of the ranger team.
Best bit of the job
During our travels around the estate, we meet and greet people walking their dogs. It’s one of the nicest parts of the job - meeting people and having conversations about something and nothing in particular. We try to ask that walkers keep their dogs on a lead, so we can protect the farm animals in the surrounding fields, particularly in spring during lambing season.
We rangers roam all year round. Another wonderful part of the job is having the opportunity to watch the seasons change around you. It can be very inspirational when you see wonderful views across the land.
Worst bit of the job
Finally, this leads me to the last on the list of a roaming ranger’s duties: picking up litter and poo bags. Admittedly, it’s only a minority of people who discard waste. It’s not my favourite part of the job, but as they say ‘someone's gotta do it’ and clearing this stuff makes it easier for visitors to enjoy the trails and the woodland of the gem that is Polesden Lacey.